Is Sleep Apnea A Silent Killer?

They say osteoporosis is a silent killer, as it's almost impossible to detect until the damage is done to your bone mass. It is usually discovered only after you've been hospitalized for a broken bone. Another condition that can lead to underlying serious illness is the condition known as sleep apnea. As insomnia cures develop over the years, more and more people are turning to sleep clinics and specialists to diagnose their sleeplessness - only to find out they have developed sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is caused by pauses in breathing during sleep. A standard definition of an apneic event will be 10 continuous second intervals between breaths. This can cause a blood oxygen de-saturation of 3 to 4%. This condition is diagnosed normally with an overnight sleep study called a polysomnogram. Now, I'm not going to bore you with medical terminology, but it is worth noting that a decrease in your blood oxygen night after night, undiagnosed for years has many adverse effects on your well being.

I was actually inspired to write this article from a comment on my most recent post, titled Steve Martins Ambien Experience. While sleep apnea is not necessarily insomnia, it very much negatively affects the quality of sleep we get and thus I have studied it's causes and treatments often in my tenure. Of all the sleep disorders, sleep apnea can cause the greatest amount of direct physiological damage to our bodies, due to the reasons I listed above.

Sleep apnea occurs in two main types: obstructive sleep apnea, which is the more common form. This occurs when throat muscles relax. Central sleep apnea is the second form, and occurs when your brain cannot send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Additionally, some people have complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of both.

Some medical problems that can result from sleep apnea are:
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • sexual dysfunction
  • learning/memory problems
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Complications with medications and surgery
There are other areas that can be severely affected by undiagnosed sleep apnea, these just scratch the surface.

Are You At Risk?
If you can answer yes to any of the following human conditions, you may be at risk for developing sleep apnea.
  1. If you have high blood pressure or hypertension, sleep apnea is not uncommon.
  2. You may have inherited a naturally narrow throat or have enlarged adnoids and/or tonsils, all of which can block your airway.
  3. If you are male you are statistically twice as likely to develop sleep apnea.
  4. Sleep apnea occurs 2 to 3 times more often in adults over 65.
  5. A family history of sleep apnea puts you at increased risk.
  6. The use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers relax the muscles in your throat and can lead to blockage.
There have been remarkable advances in the treatment of this disorder, so if you are at all suspicious about this problem, see a sleep specialist to find out about the latest therapies, such as CPAP, oral appliances, or even surgery. The treatments will differ depending on the type of apnea you are diagnosed with, but all are ery effective.

Should you wish to try your own insomnia cure, or in this case sleep apnea cure, there are a few lifestyle adjustments you should make to alleviate the symptoms, but only until you get to a proper sleep specialist. These are not really cures (of course) but they can help.
  1. Lose excess weight. Even a slight decrease in weight can help relieve constriction in your throat.
  2. Avoid alcohol, sleep meds and tranquilizers.
  3. Sleep on your side or abdomen rather than your back.
  4. Keep your nasal passages open at night by using a saline nasal spray. My clinic has used this product as it contains aloe to keep from drying out the nasal passage. Decongestants and/or antihistamines work as well, but most of these types of medications are for short term use only.
  5. Raise your torso and head 4 to 6 inches during your sleep. You can achieve this with a sleep aiding pillow, such as the one located here, which comes highly recommended. Other pillows come designed with people using CPAP therapy to assist their night time breathing. If you are already implementing a CPAP therapy, an excellent sleep aid pillow can be found here.
Remember, if you suspect that you or someone you love may have sleep apnea, don't wait for another insomnia cures post to nag you into doing something about it. Contact a sleep specialist and take a proper test now. You may add years to your life by being proactive.


  1. Thanks for such wonderful info. I had no idea this condition even existed...

  2. Thank you Monique. What is really ironic is that most people who suffer from sleep apnea just consider it as a case of "excessive snoring". Something else rather disturbing is that many GP's actually overlook sleep apnea when people come for a visit complaining that they are "tired all the time", or "not sleeping well". This further exasperates people from getting proper help.

    BTW I looked over your site, I really enjoyed it. Keep up the good work :)

  3. This is an excellent blog and very informative. I really liked this

  4. Thanks so much Margaret. I started this site out of a love for what I do and really didn't realize how many people are interested in the subject. If you ever have trouble sleeping, just pop by here anytime as I plan to write many more articles - now that I'm on annual leave from the sleep center. :)

  5. I've heard of sleep apnea, but never knew so much about it before. Awesome site. Thanks a bunch.

  6. thanks for the good advise on here. great to see such a unique blog : )